Thursday, June 13, 2024

Police Assn slams IPCA inquiry and tells Commissioner ‘ignore it’

The New Zealand Police Association has rejected the findings of an IPCA and Privacy Commissioner inquiry into Police conduct when photographing members of the public, calling for its immediate withdrawal and telling the Police Commissioner to “ignore it”.

“If this report is not immediately withdrawn, I believe the Police commissioner should choose to ignore it so staff can act fair and reasonably to deliver the level of service Kiwis expect and deserve,” said Police Association president, Chris Cahill.

Mr Cahill says the report is out of step with what police officers need to do every day to protect New Zealanders from becoming victims of crime.

“The report appears to be based on anecdotes and a few poor examples of practice. It should be based on evidence and an understanding of how most police officers actually operate,” Mr Cahill says.

“Most importantly, the report’s key findings represent a serious misunderstanding of what constitutes biometric data. As such, the report is fatally flawed and should be withdrawn immediately.”

Mr Cahill says the assertion that a photograph of a person constitutes biometric data is incorrect and claims the Privacy Commissioner’s own explanation of biometrics confirms this.

“A photograph is not personal information and therefore police taking and storing photographic images does not fall under the Privacy Act. This renders most of the report worthless.”

“Further, the assertion by the IPCA that Police cannot take voluntary fingerprints from youths is ridiculous and if permitted to stand would deny justice to hundreds, if not thousands, of victims of crime,” Mr Cahill said.

He said the Police Association was aware of large numbers of positive fingerprint hits that identify offenders for burglaries, stolen vehicles, thefts and potentially other more serious crimes that were not being acted on “because of the erroneous view of the IPCA”.

Mr Cahill called on the Police Commissioner to direct staff to act now based on these positive fingerprints and leave it to the offenders identified to challenge the legality of this evidence in court.

“New Zealanders are extremely concerned about the wave of crime across Aotearoa, much of it committed by youth offenders. Correspondingly, police officers find it repugnant to not act on evidence that positively identifies offenders,” he said.

“This is also failing youths involved in crime because when Police do not act early on the evidence they have, many of these young people will continue to commit crimes. However, if Police intervene and stop them, they become eligible for wrap-around support that could divert them away from further, often more serious, offending.”

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